Russia is giving its troubled Pantsir S1 (SA-22) anti-aircraft system one more chance to be useful in combat. A new version, Pantsir S1M, was shown in public for the first time in a June 24th parade in Moscow. S1M was first made public over a year ago at the Dubai (UAE) IDEX 2019 trade show. S1M systems won’t be delivered to customers until 2021.
It was specifically noted that the S1M model had changes based on combat experience in Syria and Libya. That combat experience was disastrous, with over twenty Pantsir S1 vehicles destroyed by Turkish and Israeli aircraft and electronic countermeasures. Most of the losses were incurred in Libya where Russia supplied one of the two factions (the LNA or Libyan National Army) fighting a civil war there with over 20 Pantsir S1 vehicles. Most were lost to Turkish Bayraker TB2 UAVs firing laser-guided missiles after the Pantsir S1s had been blinded by Turkish Koral jammers. Israel used similar tactics in Syria.
The Pantsir S1M is equipped with a new, 75-kilometer range, radar plus an “advanced” electro-optical target tracking system. Electro-optical systems cannot be blinded easily and certainly not by electronic jammers. The S1M is now equipped to detect and take down all manner of UAVs, no matter what their size or operating capabilities. S1M now uses a new missile with a range of 30 kilometers and an improved internal guidance system. At the same time, there has been a less publicized effort by the Russian army and navy to obtain a new system to replace Pantsir, which they have lost confidence in.
Given the dismal state of the defense budget, it may be a while before a Pantsir replacement can be developed and delivered. Meanwhile, Russia is apparently going to put the S1M model to the test in actual combat. While Turkey and Russia are allies, they avoid killing each other’s personnel in Syria and Libya and the new Pantsir S1M would be out to destroy Turkish UAVs. That will cost Turkey some hardware and reputation if S1M works but won’t do the kind of diplomatic damage Russians killing Turkish troops does.
Pantsir-S1 is a mobile, truck-mounted system. Each vehicle carries a radar, two 30mm cannon and twelve Tunguska missiles. The original 90 kg (198 pound) missiles had a twenty-kilometer range and the radar a 30-40-kilometer range. The missile can hit targets at up to 8,400 meters (26,000 feet). The new Tunguska is heavier, has a longer (30 kilometers) range and presumably can hit targets at higher altitudes. (end of excerpt)
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